“What do you do for fun” has always been and will always be the hardest question I’ve ever had to answer. It’s also, unfortunately, asked a lot. On dates, interviews, even by extended family I only see on Thanksgiving. It’s the kind of question that gives me sweaty palms and shakes my confidence. What do I do for fun? I know I do things. I do a lot of things. I love doing a lot of things, but what do I say? How honest should I be? Do they want to hear about the time I knitted a scarf for my cat, or should I say I play tennis (even though I haven’t played in three years)?
It’s the kind of question that defines you, which is why I find it so uncomfortable. People ask so innocently, but then you’re labeled by said answer for all eternity. Once I said I loved to paint, because I had recently bought the complete Bob Ross painting set and had successfully created (one) mountain using his metal pallet knife. For a short moment I thought I was the next Michelangelo. Turns out, oil painting is an arduous process, which is why I haven’t picked up a brush since. But now I am forever known as “the painter” by a few classmates after our professor made us do a “get to know you exercise” on the first day. I can’t help but feel like a liar every time anyone brings up that I paint. How dare I let people think I can paint!? I’M A FRAUD!
It’s such a simple question. What do you do for fun? But you must make a calculated decision as to what and how much you divulge. You can’t say anything too mundane, like watching movies, because who doesn’t like watching movies? You’ll sound unoriginal, even if that is what you really love. And you can’t answer with something too obscure. I once made the mistake of telling someone I liked DCI, which is professional marching band, and I promise is much cooler than it sounds. It’s not a small activity by any means, as it has hundreds of participants and thousands of followers, but it is obscure enough to make people tilt their head and furrow their brows in confusion before they ask, “And what’s that exactly?”
They then nod as if they understand your long winded explanation. If you like obscure things and plan on telling the world, then you must also prepare to explain to your 84 year old grandmother what “Dungeons and Dragons” is over and over until she finally gives up on understanding your weirdo-self and pats your arm saying “that sounds nice dear”, which you know she means well by but you can’t help but feel misunderstood.
So you can’t be too honest, and you can’t like obscure things. You have to find something both interesting to talk about but well enough known so that it doesn’t take an hour to explain. It’s a loaded question that just gives others more ammunition to judge you. We’ve already judged your looks, and you definitely look normal…now let’s see if you do normal things. But not just normal things, interesting things. The worst of it happens on dates.
“What do you do for fun” is more like “You better do the things I do for fun or else you’re weird and this won’t work out.” I once told a guy I had gotten really into YouTube, especially the physics and science side like The Verge channel, for example. He concluded that I was lazy and just sat inside all day, and would never want to go jogging with him which was his answer that he spouted out immediately without thinking when asked the same question.
Society has caused us to streamline our interests into a narrow range of categories so that we can be easily categorized ourselves. This makes us either instantly relate-able or instantly not. And for the sake of a mental shortcut we allow this trend to continue. If you like video games you can become a nerd in someone’s eyes. Or if you like to run before work in the morning then you’re a fitness nut to someone else.
“What do you do for fun?” The question that can spark an anxiety attack quicker than the doorbell ringing when I wasn’t expecting anyone. Choose what you say carefully. Your confession of your addiction to “My 600 lb. life” on TLC can change the way people see you. Just take my word for it.